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Brown scientists say biodiversity is crucial to ecosystem productivity
Date:4/24/2008

species of native shrubs. The team then removed a certain number of species from the plots and measured each revised plot's productivity.

"The water is the same, the nitrogen is the same, the sunlight is the same," Sala said. "What is different is the diversity of the plants."

What the researchers also learned in their experiments, which ran from 2002 to this year, is that plant productivity in a flourishing ecosystem is enhanced because each species assumes a specific niche. Ecologists call this "niche complementarity." The plants use the resources available to the whole system harmoniously, such as extending their roots at different depths in the soil, using different forms of nitrogen, and staggering when they photosynthesize.

"We are deeper into understanding the mechanisms of an ecosystem's productivity," Sala said.


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Contact: Richard Lewis
richard_lewis@brown.edu
401-863-3766
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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